wood burning art

Wood Burning Art: A Complete Guide 2017


You may be wondering what the wood burning art is all about. Well, the term refers to the art of using burn marks on wood to produce art.  Essentially, a heated tool called poker or the wood burning pen helps the artists scribble on the wood.

1.The things you need for wood burning art

Not all pieces of wood are good for the art. Light-colored hardwood is the best material for pyrography. For example, birch, beech, basswood, and sycamore produce the best results.  Their grain is not obtrusive.

However, that does not suggest that you should not use other types of wood. Oak, pine, and maple are also known to produce satisfactory results. If you choose softwood, always keep in mind that it burns faster and may not require as much effort or as hot a tool as the hardwood.

A wood burning pen is a unique tool that comes with four tips. There are other pens with various tips, and so just like the best wood carving tools, you should choose the one that fits your budget and needs.

Please note that wood burning is not like any other art. Get familiar with the wood burning tool because it is harder than your normal writing. However, with a few practice lessons, you are sure to get better.

Practice using the different tips provided to burn straight lines, round figures, and shading.  The most important thing is going slowly and steady. Any jerky movements will always show on the final product.

  • A wet paper towel

This comes in handy as you will always need to wipe the accumulated wood residue off. Burning is a process that will displace some wood particles as burning continues. Therefore, wiping the tip occasionally is important.

  • Carbon paper

A carbon paper will help you transfer the image to the piece of wood. As a beginner, you will find that this process is vital and will help burn good art on pieces of wood.

  • Sandpaper

A sand paper will help smoothen the surface before to you begin with the wood burning. Also, after you are done with the burning, the sand paper will make sure that you get rid of any top residue that remains on the wood.

2.Things to note

  1. After you have chosen your piece of wood, please note the direction of the grain before you start your burning.  The direction of the grain can cause your burning tool to deviate leading to a mistake.
  2. The figure is another factor that you should consider at all times before you start with your burning. In a real sense, the figure can enhance or negatively affect the final burned image on the wood.
  3. The wood texture is another critical element that would influence the final design. Soft wood is more likely to be fine in texture than the hardwood. Therefore, you may move your burning pen faster on it.
  4. Other things such as the color, luster, and figure should enhance the overall art. Don’t try too hard to hide this natural beauty and instead use it to enhance the art.
  5. The burning process should be smokeless. This means that if you find your burning has too much smoke, then it is best to minimize the amount of heat.

For safety purposes, make it a practice always to use a dust mask. Fine wood dust is harmful and can cause a long-term injury to your lungs. Avoid any pressure-treated wood or any treatment on wood. Wood treated with chemicals gives out noxious fumes which are quite harmful. You should avoid all human-made boards at all costs as they are health hazards when burned.

3.Starting out with the project

  • Choose a design that you want to burn on the piece of wood. The options are infinite, and all you need to do is google anything that interests you. However, be sure to add “black and white illustration” at the end of the term you intend to search. On the web, you are most likely to find great results that will leave you leering for choice.  Next, resize the image to fit your piece of wood.
  • Prepare the wood: There is a different method of preparing various types of wood. Softwood would need more sanding than the hardwood.  The direction determines the effort that you will put into the burning. Please note that you can also utilize pre-fab wood.With pre-fab wood, which you can get from your local store, you may never have to worry about the direction of the grain. With pre-fab wood, which you can get from your local store, you may never have to worry about the direction of the grain.
  •  Transfer the design to the wood: Fix your paper image on the wood with a carbon paper at the center. Use a tape to set them on the wood and make sure they are not moving.

Check that the image is appropriately in place. It should not appear to be slanting in any way.

  • Trace the image Using your pen, trace the outline of your image applying appropriate pressure on the paper to make sure that it comes out on the carbon. Where there is more shading, shade as well. You will want your art to appear just the way it is on paper.
  • Burn the outline After removing the paper and carbon, use your wood burning pen to follow the outline you imprinted on the piece of wood. To make it easy, you should go along the grain as best as you can.

At first, you will be a little jerky, but you will improve with practice.

  • Shading After completing the outline, what remains now is shading. Most pens come with a shading tip, therefore, use it to fill in the spots that need it. At this stage, you will need to keep wiping the tip of any residue that may be getting on it.

Final word

Wood burning art is quite an exciting and fulfilling thing that you can do especially if you are looking for a hobby. It may take some time before you can finally get the hang of it, however, be persistent and you will become a pro.

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